By Elijah J. Magnier: @ejmalrai
The US military is on a state of high alert and has recently sent to the Middle East two B-52s, the submarine USS Georgia and ordered USS Nimitz to stay in the Gulf due to Iran’s threats. US President Donald Trump has vowed to strike Iran “if one American soldier is US President Donald Trump has vowed to strike Iran “if one American soldier is killed in Iraq.” Meanwhile, US news reports claim that Iran is preparing a strike against US forces to avenge the unlawful assassination of the Revolutionary Guard Corps – Quds Brigade Commander, Major General Qassem Soleimani. Soleimani was treacherously killed by a US drone in Baghdad airport a year ago on the orders of Trump and his team. In reality, the two countries do not want war and are sending messages through intermediaries (Kuwait, Iraq and Oman) that they do not want a confrontation, particularly at this time, when Trump has less than three weeks left in the White House.
US officials confirmed directly to Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi that, in the first months of 2019, Israel sent suicide drones which destroyed various warehouses belonging to the Iraqi security forces. In these Israeli attacks, more than 18 Iraqis serving in the Army, the Federal Police and the Popular Mobilisation Forces (PMF) were killed and more than 8 warehouses of weapons and ammunition in the sites were destroyed. Different sites were targeted close to the capital Baghdad and in other areas throughout the Iraqi geography up to the Iraqi-Syrian borders.
The US has repeatedly violated the terms of its presence in Iraq, “to support the Iraqi security forces in their fight against the “Islamic State” (ISIS).” Since the US controls Iraqi airspace, it was the US command that allowed more than nine Israeli drone attacks against the Iraqi security forces, making it, along with Israel, directly responsible for these violations.
Various Iraqi resistance organisations responded against US-military bases in Iraq by launching blindly inaccurate rockets, resulting in the killing of an Iraqi-American contractor, Nawras Hamed, in December 2019.
A few days later, (former) US Secretary of Defence Mark Esper called (former) Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi to inform him – not to consult or warn – of his decision to strike the PMF bases in revenge for the death of the Iraqi-American contractor. Abdul-Mahdi replied (as Abdel Mahdi informed the author) that such an open strike by the United States was a violation of the US-Iraqi agreement and of Iraq’s sovereignty, and warned Esper that a violent reaction would follow against the US forces deployed in Iraq.
Esper ignored Abdul Mahdi’s warning: US warplanes struck Iraqi security forces bases, including one on the Iraqi-Syrian border, killing 28 members of the Federal Police, the army and the Popular Mobilization Forces. After their burial, their comrades held a demonstration in front of the US Embassy in Baghdad, attacking the entrance door and gate, causing material damage and showing their anger and indignation at the unlawful US killing. Abdel Mahdi threatened to resign if protesters did not immediately evacuate the perimeter of the US embassy. All demonstrators left and counter-terrorism forces took charge of protection of the US diplomatic mission.
President Donald Trump called Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi at 21:00 local time, on December 31, 2019. Trump asked Abdel Mahdi (who informed the author) about the identity of the attackers and if they were Iranians. Abdul Mahdi confirmed that they were companions of those killed by the US strikes and that he had warned Esper of the consequences prior to the attack. President Trump requested the intervention of Iraq to ease US-Iranian tensions and negotiate a de-escalation with Iran. The Iraqi Prime Minister agreed to act as a mediator and asked his office to contact the office of Major General Qassem Soleimani to invite his commander to Iraq on an official mission to negotiate and deliver the US message.
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